Faster and faster! We are moving faster and faster…
Since smart devices as mobile phones and tablets have spread, we keep receiving new stimuli all day long: texts, videos, images, short audio files, e-mails, emoticons and so on… We receive all sorts of things.
E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and most of all WhatsApp, have made us always traceable, ready to debate, hyper-receptive, perhaps unjustifiably available.
Our followers are increasing month after month: we add a neighbor, a colleague, an old friend… Therefore, both our number of received messages as well as of sent messages keep growing…a real “virtual Babel”.
Some of us, quite a few, are progressively reducing the interval of internet access, more and more frequently they feel the need to check if there are some news on their social spaces or email. On our previous article we have quoted the FOMO phenomenon, “Fear of missing out”, afraid of not participating when it happened. A fear that, applied to the network, forces the internaut to be online more and more frequently.
A greater virtual presence implies, inevitably, a lesser presence, perception and availability in the real world.
In practice, from the motor point of view, while we receive hundreds of virtual stimuli, we sit still, immovable. Our metabolism is inactive, silent, almost all of our muscles are unused. We are like Keanu Reeves in Matrix who, before being released, lived, immobile, in an electronic cocoon, a “normal” virtual life.
A possible antidote to this increasing acceleration /virtualization of our lives is offered by David Mikics: the “Slow Reading in a Hurried Age”.
We are familiar with the concept, it reintroduces successful tendencies such as “Slow Food” or “Degrowth movement“, trends based on the will to give back spaces, flavors and new feelings to the individual; the basics.
But what is the Slow Reading?
First of all the Slow Reading is not “against” internet, nor a nostalgic form of valorization of the printed book to the detriment of the digital one. The Slow Reading is a readout mode which not only involves the net, the eBooks and the digital material in general, but a way of dealing with the information, the content.
David Mikics suggests to follow the “book’s rhythm”, to stop and reflect on what we are reading, to look for small details in the text, “to dialogue” with the author, for instance adding notes to the borders of the text, reading without rushing, approaching patiently even the great novels.
To David Mikics echoes Thomas Newkirk that in his book “The Art of Slow Reading: Six Time-Honored Practices for Engagement” traces an extremely analytical framework of our way of reading, analysing principally the readout mode and the multitasking approach of “our” students.
We find particularly fascinating two of his concepts:
- “Clock in the mind“, practically each of us has his own “inside clock”, each of us needs his time to get a correct and complete understanding of what he reads
- “Culture of distraction”, too much information has transformed our way of reading, now we “hop” from one resource to another.
Thomas Newkirk affirms that it is necessary to re-establish the bond between the book we are reading and the words of which is composed of.
It is obvious, we would add, that our lifestyle has heavily influenced our way of reading and thinking. TVs, text messages, chats, instant messengers, blogs have set in motion a synthetic process of our language, of visual inputs proliferation. We have grown accustomed from search engines to move among million of occurrences, creating in many of us, a sort of addiction toward the overload of information that we are effectively experiencing with the consequence that the choice, often, is reduced to the first three results on the list.
The virtualization’s process of our lives is just starting out and is irreversible, there are no alternatives or dualisms, the path is clear, the printed book, probably already in the first half of the century, will be replaced by the digital one. The handwriting will follow analogous fate and over the same period the number of persons who will not use internet daily will be close to zero, equally the number of persons who will work at home, through the network, it will exceed 30%.
Under these conditions, given the change of our habitat, we need to learn how to filter the stimuli coming from the web, how to read slowly, how to analyse patiently the list results provided by Google looking for what really interests us. We need to learn how to read Websites and Portals ignoring advertising images, banner, special offers and casual proposals of friendship.
It is necessary to find a balance between our thought and our available time and between our available time and the information proposed.
The story, the novel, if read in the right way with the proper attention, might become the antidote, stimulating the capacity for thought and for critical thinking, training our mind.
There is no need to think and read fast, we just need to think and read.
Once again in this blog we try to overcome false dualisms between real and virtual, between technology and culture, between analog and digital, in support of a total awareness that only the thought, the reason can guide us during this irreversible historical change.